Angela Bailey, one of the skilled Yin yoga teachers on the SDY team, was quick to remind us that Yin yoga is perfect for all seasons, but that beginning (or continuing) a Yin practice now can have particular benefits for practitioners. Angela, with help from Sarah Powers’ Insight Yoga, explains some of those benefits below:
Two of the key differences between a Yin-style practice and a Yang-style practice (like Vinyasa) are how they are practiced and the way they are sequenced. Specifically, a Yin practice will be sequenced to target the flow of a meridian pairs rather than the muscles. A particular posture is neither Yin nor Yang; the difference is the way in which the posture is practiced/sequenced. Another key difference is that Yin Yoga is also associated with Chinese medicine, and in Chinese Medicine, every organ pair is connected to a season.
As autumn is upon us, we are in the Lung/Large Intestine Meridian Pair season. It is a great time of year to strengthen our lung chi as well as our immune systems. The lungs and intestines share the same quality of drawing in nutrients and letting go of waste. Our lungs are said to be the most tender of all organs because they are the first to assimilate the chi from the outside with the chi on the inside. Our lungs are also the main way we replenish our energy.
Every organ system also has an emotional quality as well as a mental quality. Signs of healthy lung chi are having the ability to encounter life’s difficulties with tenacity and having a willingness to endure. It is also said that with healthy lung chi, we are able to experience all of our moments as precious, with a certain amount of reverence for life, such as the ability to be moved to tears when we witness something beautiful like a poem, flowers or a sunset.
The health of our organs is vital to our overall well-being. Understanding their importance on our physical, energetic and psychological levels might inspire us to adopt a regular yoga practice, maybe even a Yin Yoga practice. If we begin to understand our own constitution and our own potential weaknesses, we can learn to sequence postures that best enable our body to maintain balance, vitality and promote purification.
Some helpful poses to strengthen your Lung Chi as well your immune system are:
Butterfly pose (5 min)
From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together and then slide them away from you. Allowing your back to round, fold forward, lightly resting your hands on your feet or on the floor in front of you. Your head should hang down toward your heels.
Wide-kneed child’s with a twist (3 min twisting on each side)
From a kneeling position, push back toward your hips, spreading your knees as wide as they will allow without straining. Twist your right shoulder toward your left knee, stretching your left arm back. Rest your head on the floor or on your right upper arm. Repeat on the other side.
Legs up the wall pose ( 10-15 min)
These three poses, along with ujayi pranayama, will create a reservoir of balanced energy, flood the joints with oxygenated blood and elicit the body’s natural repair response to restore joint and organ health.